River Festival

Riverfest’s final weekend schedule packed with land, air, river fun

The second and final weekend of the Wichita Riverfest is always packed with activities, both on the river and in the sky.

But this year, it will be even more hectic – partially because of a few new events organizers have launched and partially because two anticipated river activities from opening weekend had to be rescheduled.

Add to that the fact that the final weekend doesn’t include a Sunday, as the first one did, and the schedule gets even more crowded.

“It’s going to be wild,” said Teri Mott, the festival’s director of marketing and communication. “We are going to have a big, big day on Saturday.”

Among the big events festivalgoers will have to choose from: the Wet Your Palette Raft Race and the Cardboard Regatta, both of which were moved from opening weekend because of fast-moving currents; the River Run, which was moved this year from the opening to the final weekend; the big festival finale fireworks show, which also was on opening weekend last year; Admiral Windwagon Smith, in uniform, rappelling off the side of a building; concerts by Flogging Molly, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Mayer Hawthorne; hot air balloons; a funnel cake-eating contest; a chicken wing-eating contest; a neon dance party; a salute to aviation; and a massive Duck Deployment.

Here’s a guide to the busy final weekend of the Wichita Riverfest.


A Salute to Aviation: Activities on Friday are designed to celebrate Wichita’s status as the Air Capital and will include a static display of planes manufactured in Wichita plus a B-52 flight simulator set up from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Douglas near Water. There will also be a Rosie the Riveter look-a-like contest with on-site registration from 5 to 6:45 p.m. and judging at 7 p.m. on the Kennedy Plaza Stage. The winner gets a set of tools and a $100 U.S. savings bond. “We have kids category and an adults category,” Mott said. “It’s easy. Everyone can do their own interpretation, and you can get the things right out of your closet.”

Neon Dance Party with Four Color Zack: This event, which happens from 5 to 9:45 p.m. on the RedGuard Stage, will feature several top DJs spinning dance tunes. It’ll start at 5 p.m. with local act DJ Carbon followed by Winfield’s DJ Tight Pants at 7:30 p.m. Then, at at 9 p.m., headliner Four Color Zack, an award-winning DJ from Seattle, will perform.

Indie showcase featuring Flogging Molly: The main music on the Kennedy Plaza Stage on Friday is alternative, and the headliner is well-known Irish alternative band Flogging Molly, which will take the stage at 9 p.m. The evening, which starts at 5 p.m., also will include music from the Souveneers, Carrie Nation & The Speakeasy and California group The Devil Makes Three.

Hot air balloons: The balloons will fly on Saturday morning, weather permitting, but starting at 6 p.m. Friday, they’ll be stationary and glowing just south of the RedGuard Stage.

Riverfest wing-eating contest: Watch brave, large-stomached festivalgoers attempt to out-eat each other in a chicken wing-eating contest, which happens from 7 to 8 p.m. on the main food court stage.


River Run: The big races are on the second Saturday instead of the first this year, a move made primarily to help out exhausted volunteers who were tearing down the opening night parade and setting up the run almost simultaneously last year, Mott said. The 10k starts at 7 a.m., the two-mile walk at 8:30 a.m. and the two-mile run at 9:30 a.m. at Waterman and Main. Race-day registration will be available starting at 6 a.m. and costs $40 to $60.

Hot air balloons: Look up in the sky just before 7 a.m., and you’ll likely see several colorful hot air balloons floating over the Riverfest. “We’ll launch them over the River Run if weather permits,” Mott said. They’ll launch south of the RedGuard Stage.

Admirals’ pancake feed: The past admirals will be serving pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee for $7 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the RedGuard Stage

Over the Edge: Visitors also will be able to see Riverfest daredevils rappelling 14 stories off of the Ambassador Hotel at 104 S. Broadway as part of a Boy Scouts of America event called Over the Edge. It lasts all day, and at 5:30 p.m., Admiral Windwagon Smith will take his turn in full uniform.

Kansas Honor Flight Duck Deployment: The Kansas Honor Flight will drop 10,000 rubber ducks in the river and watch them race down a course. People who have “adopted” ducks in advance and paid the $5 adoption fee will win a prize if their rubber ducky finishes in the top 10. The race happens at the Douglas Avenue Bridge at noon. All proceeds will go to help Kansas veterans fly to Washington, D.C., to visit war memorials.

Wet Your Pallet raft race: This event, originally scheduled for the first weekend, now will happen at 2 p.m. on Saturday. It invites pre-registered teams to race rafts made from recycled materials down the river. They’ll launch from the Douglas Avenue Bridge.

Cardboard Regatta: This rescheduled event, which asks participants to build river-worthy floating vessels out of cardboard, duct tape and pool noodles in 90 minutes or less, also will launch at the Douglas Avenue Bridge. The event lasts from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

DJ Jazzy Jeff & Mayer Hawthorne: The festival’s final big concert happens Saturday night on Kennedy Plaza. DJ Jazzy Jeff takes the stage at 7 p.m followed by Mayer Hawthorne at 9 p.m.

Funnel cake-eating contest: Watch contestants snarf funnel cakes like they mean it at this annual competition. Any remaining spots will be filled on-site starting at 2:30 p.m., and the contest, in which contestants must eat as many funnel cakes as they can in 10 minutes, starts at 3 p.m. on the main food court stage.

Fiesta Del Rio concert: This celebration of Mexican music starts at 4 p.m. on the RedGuard Stage and culminates at 9 p.m. with headliner Grupo Mojado.

CapFed Fantastic Fireworks Finale: The big fireworks finale launches at 10:30 p.m. over the Arkansas River. The best viewing spots, Mott said, will be on the riverbanks between Douglas and Lewis.